The “Lord” hath spoken: Monckton’s war on salt

Hat tip to Anarchist606 who is paying close attention to the UK general elections and the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP).

In late 2009 Christopher Walter, aka Lord Monckton, joined the UKIP as their “science advisor”. For those not familiar with UK politics, the Guardian nicely sums them up:

“…this party has become the last refuge of a marvellous collection of cranks and fabulists. In fact this seems to be its main role: care in the community for political eccentrics.”

Monckton is well known in the climate debate. He is the classics “scholar” who is feted and lionised by the denial movement, touring the world giving lectures (at AUD$10,000 a pop) in which he claims climate change is a conspiracy orchestrated by scientists and greens in order to facilitate a the establishment of a communist world government.

Yes, that Lord Monckton who our local deniers – Andrew Bolt, Jo Nova – fawn over like star struck teens at a Twilight premiere.

It would seem the Lord has a range of views that could be described as, well, non-consensus. Let’s take his view on salt consumption. Yes, the issue of how much salt is healthy for your diet. In the Lord’s very own words:

“..Consider the prolonged campaigns to tell the public that salt is bad for them. There is little sound scientific evidence for any such campaign, since any excess salt is merely excreted harmlessly via the kidneys.”

Little such evidence? Try decades of research by the medical community.

4 thoughts on “The “Lord” hath spoken: Monckton’s war on salt

  1. Robert says:

    I loathe Monckton, and he says many genuinely retarded things, but he has more than a little bit of a point here. If you have healthy kidneys, and don’t have heart failure, the impact of salt on your blood pressure is likely to be tiny — on the order of 1mmHg systolic — compared to, for example, a reduction of 5mmHg from daily meditation, or 10-20mmHg with a medication like HCTZ or an ACE inhibitor.

    The public health case against salt is not totally sound, much like that against fat 20 years ago. The fake “science adviser to Margaret Thatcher” happens to be making an unusual amount of sense on this one. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!

  2. Robert says:

    “If you have healthy kidneys, and don’t have heart failure, the impact of salt on your blood pressure is likely to be tiny . . .”

    Two more caveats: if you have high blood pressure, or you’re non-Caucasian, the effect is larger, on the order of 5mmHg systolic. So there are lots of populations that would and do benefit from cutting salt intake. What makes Monckton’s quote roughly true is that he is talking about “campaigns” that try to reduce everybody’s salt intake. As a Cochrane review put it:

    “In 57 trials of mainly Caucasians with normal blood pressure, low sodium intake reduced SBP by -1.27 mm Hg (CI: -1.76; -0.77)(p<0.0001) and DBP by -0.54 mm Hg (CI: -0.94; -0.14) (p = 0.009) as compared to high sodium intake. . . . The magnitude of the effect in Caucasians with normal blood pressure does not warrant a general recommendation to reduce sodium intake. "

    http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004022/frame.html

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks Robert, and for the pointers. I’m curious to check them out. I’m interested to see what the EBM (evidence based medicine) consensus view is. Well worth discussing.

      And by the way, I’m enjoying your blog.

      Mike @ WTD

  3. Robert says:

    “And by the way, I’m enjoying your blog.”

    Thank you!

    “I’m interested to see what the EBM (evidence based medicine) consensus view is. Well worth discussing.”

    The Cochrane collaboration (http://www.cochrane.org/) is a good resource for evidence-based medicine, as is the USPS task force (http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm) (who can also be located by following the angry mob of pitchfork-wielding women, following their now-famous recommendation to reduce the use of screening mammograms.)

    Specific studies (or their abstracts, at least) are probably best hunted up via PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed). Especially useful is the list of related studies that pops up on the right. The only caveat with PubMed is that studies vary in quality and often don’t agree in their results (you can mitigate this by going to the “limits” and checking “core clinical journals” and both “clinical trials” and “meta-analysis.”)

    It occurs to me you may know any or all of the above. If so, please excuse the digression. I am well into the six figures in student loan debt and anxious to put my dearly-bought tidbits of information to any use I can.

    Love the site.

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